Greetings Giant Bombers, I hope you’re all enjoying your 2011 so far, I know I am. I’ve got a lot more blog content “in the pipeline” but it’s going to be a while before that’s out of the oven so I figure now is good time to talk about what I’ve been playing recently. Initiate blog!
Forza Motorsport 3
I’m very late to the party on this one and I’m not a big fan of racing games but from the little I’ve played of Forza 3 I’ve found something I can really enjoy in it. The accessibility of the game is one of its greatest assets and it’s something that I think a lot of games can learn from no matter their genre. A lot of the deeper and more complex games out there make themselves inaccessible to certain kinds of players by bombarding them with gameplay elements that the player must take a considerable amount of time and effort to master. This means many players feel overwhelmed and go through a period of struggling before they get a proper feeling of fun from the game. Forza 3 manages to make itself open to even those who don’t play many racing games, without removing the gameplay systems that racing game fans enjoyed.
Of course I also have to praise the game’s rich, well fleshed-out features, from the online auctions and stores, to the customisation options and creation tools. Even before playing the game I’d already seen some of the mind-blowing things people had created using the in-game tools.
Mass Effect 2
Yesterday I played through the Kasumi’s Stolen Memory DLC and was delighted to have one again been a part of the Mass Effect universe. I must be honest and say that I didn’t find Kasumi as interesting as most of the other characters in the game, and I did find the DLC a bit briefer than I would have liked, however it was fun to use Kasumi’s stealth ability and the choice that had to be made at the end was very interesting. It may have also had an even better use of camera than the main content in Mass Effect 2 did, and helped ram home how beautiful the sci-fi world of Mass Effect can really be.
So, before I talk about Tron: Evolution I think I should make it clear that I do have some hang-ups with the universe of Tron. I understand why it appeals to people but both as a programmer and a person who just likes their fiction to make sense it just annoys me that the world of Tron is completely nonsensical. I feel like it lures me in with its fancy talk of caches and buses, but then just turns out to be about telling me there are tiny people inside my computing zooming around on magic motorcycles. That being said I thought Tron: Evolution had the potential to be better than the average movie game.
Sadly I’ve had two somewhat lengthy play sessions with Tron: Evolution and I never feel like I want to pick it up again. The game looks nice and the sound isn’t bad but I just hate everything about the gameplay. Perhaps one of the most annoying things is that the game seems deliberately imbalanced. Combat is very largely dependent on your character’s level and this means that not only does the combat seem unreasonably imbalanced against you from the start, but it also feels a bit like the game is punishing you for not playing the multiplayer, and honestly, I don’t want to play the multiplayer.
In the regular online matches everyone just seems to pile together and spam their attacks until some sort of outcome is reached, and in lightcycles matches the camera remains so close to your character you can’t actually get any idea of what’s going on in the vast map around you. The camera is also a problem in single-player, leading to frustration in platforming sections and plenty of situations in combat where you get attacked by unseen enemies. On top of that there’s a whole number of other holes in the game design and overall I just feel like the gameplay is too repetitive. I think it’s pretty conclusive, I’ve not enjoyed Tron: Evolution.
A lot has already been said about what was wrong with Fable III, however one thing that I don’t think has been talked about quite as much is that while there were a lot of things wrong with it, some of those things were wrong for the right reasons. What I mean to say is that I believe a large amount of the design ideas didn’t work out because they were highly ambitious ideas that just couldn’t be realised. Molyneux put across the impression that Lionhead had great plans for the latest Fable instalment and while a lot of games are bad I’d much rather have a game that fell short of it’s mark while trying to be ambitious, than one that was bad because publishers weren’t willing to give proper time and resources, or because the developers were contented with creating a generic experience.
The armoury system was on the whole not very effective, but the clothing system within the armoury is something a lot of other RPGs could learn from, and Lionhead’s attempt to obsolete the HUD with his game was an admirable effort at cracking a very difficult task. Perhaps the part of the game I’m most happy they were ambitious with were the difficult choices in the endgame. The ending itself is far too sudden and could provide a nasty experience for players under the wrong circumstances, however I think the later gameplay did a good job of making the player really the feel the struggle between trying to please the people and trying to save them. The game also presented you with what were, at their core, difficult political decisions, many of which I found genuinely hard to decide on. I mean hell, the ability to do that was one of the things Mass Effect has been praised for (and rightly so). They didn’t do it with the depth and elegance of Mass Effect, but for all the talk about Fable’s weak moral choice system it was a promising step towards more complex moral decisions in video games. Fable III, I may never play you again, but damn you tried.
Duder, It’s Over
That concludes another week of scratching my head and typing. May 2011 continue to bring great gaming experiences. Good luck, have Grunt.